Books and stories have always been a huge part of my parenting, if I achieved nothing else for my children I wanted to give them the gift of reading. I wanted them to be able to escape to other worlds, I wanted to give them the key to imagination, knowledge and understanding and to equip them with the skills to open whichever of life’s doors they fancied.
As a teacher many of my most rewarding moments were reading related. My first teaching post was in a junior school in East Bristol with a very varied catchment. Making a reading breakthrough with a child and seeing the wonder in their eyes as they realised they could decode those spiky black symbols and unlock a story was just the best feeling. Sending them on to secondary school as confident readers meant they were equipped to access the full curriculum and those doors to the future would be open to them.
But there are, unfortunately, some children who don’t get that chance to break through into the world of reading and who are then always playing a demoralising game of catch up. Children who are not surrounded by books at home through no fault of their own or their families, children who need more support and encouragement than can possibly be made time for just at school.
That’s why I’m jumping on board with an exciting new campaign launched today by Save the Children to coincide with Children’s Book Week. Save has published a report ‘Too Young To Fail’ which reveals that:
- Many poor children in the UK today start school already behind their better-off peers – through no fault of their own.
- Last year, 1 in 4 poor children left primary school without basic skills in reading and writing.
- By the time they are seven, nearly 80% of the difference in GCSE results between rich and poor children has already been determined
- The first two years a child is at school is a crucial window during which to close the attainment gap. Reading is one of the keys to unlocking a child’s potential.
- If they don’t get the help they need before they leave primary school, another generation of children will face lifelong penalties for being born poor.
What are Save the Children proposing to do about it?
Save the Children is today launching a nationwide “Born to Read” programme– in partnership with Beanstalk – to get 23,000 children across the UK reading over the next four years. Save plans to do this by aiming to recruit 20,000 ‘change makers’ who will help reach children in their first chapters of life, giving them a better chance of fulfilling their potential.
It is also expanding its hugely successful parenting programme – FAST – to more deprived areas of the country to give parents the tools they need to help their children get the best out of their education as well as calling on the government to invest in children’s futures and the future of the country as a whole.
What Can We Do To Help?
As a teacher and a Mum I can’t stand back and wash my hands of these children, we have a societal and community responsibility to help every child get a good start. It is too easy to stand back and tut, to expect someone else to do it, to draw up the family drawbridge with an ‘I’m all right Jack’, that is why I’m signing up as a Change Maker and why I’m asking you to do the same.
Can you sign up as a Change Maker today and begin that journey to change the future for poor children in the UK? We are!